Children don’t have a choice. Parents are parents and they are human. The child-parent bond can be amazing, it can be non-existent, or it can be anything between. For those that desire a good relationship with her or his child, trust has to be the foundation. A child has to know that regardless of everything else, his or her parent is honest with them.
That is not always easy. There are times when it is harder to be honest with a son or daughter, especially when the truth reveals the human flaws of the parent. In those circumstances, avoidance of the truth may seem to be what is best; however, the risk is that the child will discover the truth and then everything about the relationship can be called into question.
My Lesson In Trust
A year ago I learned that my Dad was not my father. It is difficult, if not impossible, to absorb news like that all at once. After six decades of attachment to the family name of ‘Kiser,’ it took awhile to put the new information into a perspective. It did not radically change my life, but it did dismantle half of the foundation that my life was built upon.
After learning the truth I began to ask the questions that I had never considered. Did my Dad know? Did my real biologic Father know? Did my Mom know, or did she just wonder? Who else knew? My Mom, Dad, and biological Father have passed away, so I couldn’t get their version of the truth. I tried to imagine the various scenarios of what happened and how they would have played out.
Fortunately, there was a person still alive who knew what happened and he shared his account of the situation. It answered my questions and uncovered the trauma and resolution surrounding my birth. I learned that my father knew I was not his son while I was still in my mother’s womb. My mother probably realized who the father was as soon as she knew that she was pregnant.
The Hard Road
Despite the emotional trauma caused, everyone involved came to do what was best. It was best that the two families involved stayed intact. They did. It was best for me to be raised as a Kiser. I was. It was best that everyone moved forward without succumbing to the feelings of betrayal, anger, and pride. They did.
There was one lingering problem. My parents apparently made the decision to never tell me the truth. At the time that was probably a good decision, but put my parents and others in the role of keeping a major secret from me. That would have repercussions for decades.
The Sleeping Monster
A major secret is a sleeping monster. It lies waiting. To avoid disturbing the secret, people work her or his life around it desperately hoping it never wakes up. It creates terror and fear in those who know and makes fools out of those who don’t.
In addition to my parents, many people knew the truth about my parentage. How it affected their behavior towards me I will never know. I do know that after I left home I saw the relationship other people had with their parents and I realized that there was something different about my relationship with my parents.
For most of my early childhood, my Dad was gone during the week, living ‘on-the-job.’ My mother rarely was involved with me or my school activities. I decided that she probably was burnt out after raising three other boys. That explanation probably accurate, but now I know that my relationship with my parents was built around a secret. Now I know they were walking around the sleeping monster all of my life. Now that monster is awake and I have to deal with it without them.
If you love your children, be honest with them.